NEI partners with youth group to build library in rural Afghanistan


NEI has announced it is partnering with the recently established Seeds Of Hope Youth Club to build a village library in rural Afghanistan.


Nutrition & Education International (NEI), a Pasadena-based international NGO promoting soybeans as an affordable way to eradicate protein-energy malnutrition in Afghanistan, recently established its Seeds of Hope (SOH) Youth Club program providing Afghan youth with life-enhancing skills to help them better navigate the daily challenges faced in their rural villages.


So far, NEI has trained more than 400 rural Afghan youth in Nangarhar and Herat provinces on farming, nutrition, community leadership, and business in both classroom and experiential settings.


 “The enthusiasm these youth show for this program is amazing,” says Dr Kwon, NEI’s President and Founder. “Almost overnight they were setting up their very own poultry farms, soy farms, and small garden plots, growing food to help feed their families and also sell to the local market.”


In addition to the provided training, Youth Club members are encouraged to come up with project ideas that will positively impact their communities.


And the result is asking NEI to help them build their own village library.


Many rural youth - especially females – do not regularly attend school, but are eager to learn.


They youth worked with village elders to locate an available room, built bookshelves, and suggested the types of books they wanted. NEI then purchased the books, chairs, a rug, and other amenities to make an inviting gathering space for the youth and community members.


“In my village there is no school, library, or internet so it is hard to learn,” said 19 year-old Omid Zalmay. “This new library will help me become better educated as I want to become a pilot for my country one day.”


Based on positive feedback from youth and other community members, NEI will expand its SOH Youth Club program to include 2,000 at-risk youth in 10 provinces across Afghanistan in 2017.

NEI Founder's year-end message cites many successes for 2016


December 22, 2016

Dear Friends of NEI,


I hope that this letter finds you in good health.  Thanks to your warm wishes and support, 2016 was another successful year for NEI in helping the women and children of Afghanistan, who are living in poverty and hunger.


As you may know, each year NEI trains soybean cultivation to new farmers and expands to new areas with the mission of eradicating malnutrition throughout Afghanistan.  This year, NEI trained 17,000 soybean farmers in 31 of 34 provinces.   As a result our farmers set a new record, harvesting 6,000 metric tons of soybean to alleviate hunger.


Because more soybean is available in rural villages, NEI’s programs expanded in 2016 to include rural housewives, who usually stay at home and are not able to contribute to the family economically.  NEI implemented a home poultry business for village women in three provinces.  Now the women can use soybeans to feed their chickens, which lay eggs for home consumption and for sale in the local community.  This program has enabled village housewives to help their family by providing them with a profitable livelihood.


On a personal note, I am grateful to report that I have returned from my 60th trip to Afghanistan in November.  It all began in 2003 with an invitation to address Balkh University Medical School professors on affordable ways to fight protein-energy malnutrition, a serious problem in Afghanistan, causing high mortality rates among women and children.  I never imagined my life would head in this direction. I have been fortunate to see a side of Afghanistan that most don’t - a beautiful country with generous, hardworking, and warm-hearted people who simply want to build a good life for themselves and their families.


I am eternally thankful for all of your support and kindness.  May you have a blessed Christmas and happy New Year.


Warmest Regards,


Steven Kwon



In Memory of David Quarles

Nutrition & Education International recently lost a beloved and valued member of the NEI family, David Quarles.




By Dr. Steven Kwon, NEI founder & president


"In addition to being my mentor for many years, David truly touched the lives of many – both around the world and at home. While so many people endlessly pursue material wealth, recognition, and comforts, this was never David’s motivation. Instead, he chose to devote his later years to helping those in extreme need living with great insecurity, over focusing on his personal welfare.


"I had the honor of working side-by-side with David in remote provinces of Afghanistan helping poor farmers learn to cultivate soybeans to feed and financially support their families. David was very knowledgeable about soybean farming and recognized locally in Afghanistan as the “soybean expert.” He chose to live alongside rural Afghan farmers for months at a time, often in the midst of dangerous security situations, to train these farmers how to cultivate soybeans with the goal of eradicating protein malnutrition among at risk women and children.


"Due to his dedication and compassion, the Afghan people are now in a better position to become successful and fulfill their dreams. David showed us all how to love our neighbors – no matter their circumstances, ethnicity or beliefs. He was indeed a hero of humanity of love.


"We, together with the many Afghan families he has touched, will deeply miss him."


David Quarles is pictured with Dr. Steven Kwon, NEI founder and president, above left, and is shown presenting at NEI’s Soybean Science & Technology Conference in Kabul, this past March.

Afghanistan's First Sterilized Commercial Soy Milk Factory

Officials from NEI and Afghanistan are celebrating the arrival of the initial shipments of equipment for fghanistan's first sterilized commercial soy milk factory.

NEI is making history in Afghanistan. We are in the process of establishing the first ever commercial scale sterilized soy milk factory in the country. This factory will produce 40,000 packs daily of 10 month shelf life, soymilk without requiring refrigeration. This is important because it will increase accessibility to protein and reach more food insecure households in rural households without electricity.

Twenty-five containers of equipment arrived in Afghanistan from Korea.  This project would not be possible without the support and cooperation of: Republic of Korea, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Daesung Food Technology, the Korea Soybean Society, the World Food Programme, and the Korea-Afghanistan Friendship Association, & Faizi Masroor Construction Company.


Inspecting the site for the new soy milk plant.

Discussing equipment for the new soy milk plant.

NEI President meets with

Minister of Health to dicuss

foundation's work to combat malnutrition in Afghanistan


Dr. Steven Kwon,  president of Nutrition & Education International, met recently with the Minister of Public Health of Afghanistan, Dr. Ferozudin Feroz, to discuss NEI's work to combat malnutrition.


The hour-long meeting at Dr. Feroz' residence, covered multiple items and ended with Dr. Feroz saying he would communicate his strong support of NEI to the president of Afghanistan. Dr. Kwon told the minister that he had prepared two reports he wanted to present to the president.


As part of his presentation, Dr. Kwon said 23 containers of equipment and machinery for Soya milk production had just reached Kabul from Korea. Dr. Kwon invited  that the minister attend the inauguration ceremony and give a speech. Dr. Feroz accepted the invitation.


Dr. Faroz, meanwhile, said he will invite Dr. Kwon to give a two-hour presentation regarding the activities of NEI and the benefits of Soya at the MoPH Policy Meeting, scheduled in August.


Others attending the meeting included Mahboobullah Siddiqi, Senior Advisor to the Education Minister

in Parliamentary Affairs for Afghanistan.

Dr. Kwon meets with Minister of Public Health

These two short videos  show excerpts from the recent meeting held between Dr. Steven Kwon, left, president of NEI, and Dr. Ferozudin Feroz, Minister of Public Health of Afghanistan. Dr. Kwon reviewed NEI's work to combat malnutrition in Afghanistan.

Pictured from left are Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek, NEI's Dr. Steven Kwon, and Nat Nehdar and Justin Jones of the city's Human Relations Commission. Pasadena honors
Dr. Steven Kwon for
NEI's work in Afghanistan

Dr. Steven Kwon, president and founder of Pasadena-based Nutrition & Education International, has been honored by the city of Pasadena with the Harry Sheldon Memorial Award for his and NEI's work to eradicate malnutrition in Afghanistan.


The award from the Pasadena Human Relations Comission was presented to Dr. Kwon at a recent City Council Meeting. The award is for Dr. Kwon's contributions to improving human relations and for positiveluy impacting human lives.


In conferring the award, the city said Dr. Kwon's devotion to his cause has resulted in over 1.7 million food-insecure Afghan women and children benefiting from humanitarian aid relief, and over 70,000 rural Afghan farmers receiving soy farming assistance to etter provide for their families.


NEI's mission is to eradicate malnutrition through soybean cultivation and nutrition programs in Afghanistan with a focus on those most affected, especially women and children. NEI implements projects that promote self-reliance among poor rural farmers. Male and femal farmers are trained on how to groy soybeans, providiong high protin soy-based foods for tens of thousands of households. NEI's women's empowerment program offers women training and employment in a country with very limited opportunities for women.

Members of NEI's Pasadena family are on hand to celebrate Dr. Steven Kwon's recent award.

NEI  symposium examines "Hope for Afghanistan - Post U.S. Withdrawal"

Nutrition & Education International (NEI) held a luncheon symposium on Monday, Sept. 14, to examine the question of "Hope for Afghanistan - Post U.S. Withdrawal."


Speakers included Dr. Steven Kwon, president and founder of NEI, as well as Claude Jibidar, Country Director, Afghanistan, UN World Food Program, and Noorullah Delawari, Head of the Afghan American Chamber of Commerce Southern California, and former governor of the Central Bank of Afghanistan.  Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-Calif.) also gave a welcome address.


The complimentary luncheon symposium was held at the Hilton Pasadena.

NEI’s work in Afghanistan: An update from Dr. Steven Kwon


December, 2014

Dear Friends and Supporters of NEI,


Since 2003, NEI began the pioneering effort to eradicate malnutrition in Afghanistan.  Thanks to your support, it has been possible for us to establish an increasingly effective soy program in 22 provinces.  With this in mind, we are much honored to give the following summary of NEI’s work in Afghanistan.


Soybeans are a sensible solution to address Afghanistan malnutrition crisis


After years of war, the Afghan people have been left with little resources and unable to incorporate enough meat, milk or other protein-rich foods into their diets. Soybeans are 15 – 20 times less expensive than the price of animal proteins such as meat, milk and eggs. Harvesting soybeans for eating at home has been the way of life for Far Eastern people for more than 20 centuries. Our “agriculture for nutrition” philosophy is different from that of many agriculturalists or funding agencies, however, it’s based on our mission to bring protein directly to the people who need it most: the Afghans who are dying from malnutrition. When farmers grow soybeans and consume them at home, their families are nourished by a sustainable source of protein.


Afghan farmers enjoy growing soybeans


Soybean industry development has been pursued in close collaboration with the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL). NEI first trained more than 1,000 MAIL extension agronomists, then partnering with these agronomists, trained more than 60,000 farmers in 22 provinces to grow soybeans. Farmers continue to take interest in soybeans because they enjoy eating them at home and can sell their excess on the market, including one of six soy flour factories. Farmers earn comparable or even higher net income compared to other second crops like mungbean and corn under NEI’s soybean pricing structure.


Soybean seeds are now being successfully produced in Afghanistan


Due to the partnership between NEI and the Afghan government and thousands of Afghan farmers, soybean seeds that are viable for planting have been self-sustainable in the country since 2011. No longer do they need to be imported from the United States. The Agriculture Research Institute of Afghanistan (ARIA) and NEI successfully completed the first of four three-year research trials (2009-2012) with 9 new varieties at their agriculture research stations in 10 provinces. From the trial, the National Seed Committee approved three new varieties for us to distribute to Afghan farmers from next year in addition to the current two varieties being used after approval in 2005. These joint research trials spanned three consecutive years and covered all seven climatic and ecological zones of Afghanistan. The trials demonstrated that soybeans thrive in Afghanistan.


The market for soybeans is growing


The market for soy is being developed in the major cities of Kabul and Herat. In Kabul, grain shops are selling soybeans to the general public, and because soy-enriched naan tastes good and stays fresh longer than traditional naan it’s in high demand, sold in 100 bakeries in Kabul. Demand for full-fat soy flour exceeds the supply in Kabul naan bakeries. Small but significant markets are growing for other soy products as well, such as roasted soy nuts, soy cookies, and tofu.  In 2015, a rise in consumption of soybeans among rural farmers has created a happy dilemma.  This acceptance of protein-rich soybeans as a popular food is what NEI hoped for. The farmers want to retain most of their harvest for their families rather than sell to the market.  Necessarily, NEI is working with larger-capacity farmers for surplus purchases, while still maintaining support to subsistence farmers.


NEI is not funded by U.S. taxpayers


NEI is a nonprofit organization funded by the generous donations of private individuals and organizations committed to our humanitarian mission. In recent years, we’ve been proud to receive funding in partnership with the World Food Programme.


Thank you again for making all of this possible,


Steven Kwon, PhD


Founder & President